You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

25701463You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Received: Publisher
Publication Date: March 7th, 2017
Publisher: Knopf
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 12+
Pacing: Normal
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Disability

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When Julia finds a slur about her best friend scrawled across the back of the Kingston School for the Deaf, she covers it up with a beautiful (albeit illegal) graffiti mural.

Her supposed best friend snitches, the principal expels her, and her two mothers set Julia up with a one-way ticket to a “mainstream” school in the suburbs, where she’s treated like an outcast as the only deaf student. The last thing she has left is her art, and not even Banksy himself could convince her to give that up.

Out in the ’burbs, Julia paints anywhere she can, eager to claim some turf of her own. But Julia soon learns that she might not be the only vandal in town. Someone is adding to her tags, making them better, showing off—and showing Julia up in the process. She expected her art might get painted over by cops. But she never imagined getting dragged into a full-blown graffiti war.


The last YA book I read with illustrations inside was gorgeous little Everything, Everything, and that was almost two years ago, so I was surprised to find plenty of drawings to admire when I opened this new book.

Sadly though, I do believe they weren’t exactly necessary. They don’t add to the story, since the author uses space to describe them anyway. It wouldn’t have been hard to picture them, had they not been included.

Regardless, it’s one of the things that make this book different from the others. The other thing is the deaf non-white main character (Julia). Hooray! Diversity. And she’s not only into art; she’s into graffiti.

While she is authentic enough, especially in regards to her disability and culture, I preferred her sidekick Yoga Pants to the lead herself. She often appears rather angry, relentless and defensive. As much as I tried, I did not see myself in her. Not one bit.

Yoga Pants, on the other hand, is calmer and far more interesting, interestingly. I was curious about her past with Julia’s new enemy, her family and her interest in art. At some point, I wished she and Julia switched personalities, because YP is the kind of person I could easily see myself becoming good friends with, not Julia. Sad face.

I’m disappointed with the attempted romance theme. I say attempted, because there is a love interest, and lots of drama surrounded him, and yet there is not one romantic scene. I never did see what Julia saw in Donovan. I’m glad friendship at least trumps romance in this book.

This looks like such a captivating story, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. It’s not extraordinarily written and it definitely lacks in meaningful events. Julia’s inner rambling can be a good thing if you need a good night’s sleep, I’ll give her that. I did truly enjoy the realistic portrayal of a deaf teenage girl struggling to fit in her new school, but it failed to move me. Boring emotional experiences. Not recommended.


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4 thoughts on “You’re Welcome, Universe by Whitney Gardner

  1. Oh, wow! I just finished this and absolutely loved it. Maybe I’m just as angry and defensive as Julia? Haha. I thought the illustrations were amazing (maybe because I have no artistic talent or experience with graffiti so I couldn’t really picture them without), and I felt the whole point of the “attempt” at romance was to show how it’s not necessary. Friends trump romance, IMO…or they should, as in my own personal experience any time I let a romantic relationship get in the way of my friendships, it turned out to be unhealthy. Eh, to each their own though! Good to see a review from a different perspective.


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